Wednesday, April 14, 2010

amBisyon 2010: Education (Faculty by Jerrold Tarog / Wasteland by Ellen Ramos)

The University of the Philippines Film Institute (UPFI) is not under the jurisdiction of the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB) - UPFI

The UPFI finally bared its fangs and courageously made a stand on the issue of censorship. Before the screening of the amBisyon 2010 short films at UPFI, cinema programmer Nonoy Lauzon read a statement by the institute. It said that any form of censorship and classification runs counter to the academic freedom espoused by the university. UPFI is not, and will not be, under the jurisdiction of the repressive MTRCB. With regards to the issue of holding commercial screenings, Nonoy stated that the Film Theater (now Cine Adarna) is managed and operated by the UPFI as an income-generating unit.

UPFI went on to defiantly screen an X-rated film of AmBisyon 2010 that Friday night (April 9). On that same night, four short films made their television premiere on ABS-CBN News Channel 27. Included in the lineup were the films Faculty and Wasteland.

Faculty (2010, Jerrold Tarog)

UP activists. Academic freedom. Making a stand.

These topics were tackled in the short film by Jerrold Tarog. It is another fine example of Tarog’s ability to input social commentary in his films. The director chose education as his issue because he believes that it is the starting point in bringing about change. The brilliant script is complemented by fine performances by Che Ramos and Bea Garcia.

Two best friends working in an exclusive school in Metro Manila get embroiled in the hospitalization of a student named Julia. The senior student was at a rally when she received the brunt of police brutality. Julia identified Joan as the teacher who exhorted (and probably coerced) the students to attend the rally.

Ria reminds Joan that they are no longer at the University of the Philippines. ‘There are no activists in this school,’ she says. Joan growls back at her friend and points out the need for their rich students to be exposed to social conditions around them. They have the money and network (ie. relatives in government positions) to make important changes in the future.

Ria made a curt comment that the bratty college students do not care about social issues. ‘It is too late to make a change in their behavior,’ she says. Is it really too late? Joan doesn’t think so. The activist makes an emphatic decision at the end.

Social activism has many risks but if activists refuse to make a stand, then who will? If not today, then when will social change start?

Wasteland (2010, Ellen Ramos)

Director Ellen Ramos sees animation as an intimate way of expressing what she wants to convey to audiences. She likes the ability of animation to present serious issues in a lighter vein.

Wasteland takes a look at a scavenger boy’s ordeal in going to school. After a night’s work of retrieving recyclable items from garbage dumps, he gets ready to go to school. In his daily walks, he encounters lots of problems. The rickety school building at the end speaks volume about the state of education in the country.

I adore the feel and pacing of the film. The music and sound effects are okay. But, there’s a tiny thing that marred the film. When the boy started to ascend the stairs his body become longer. I was wondering whether there was a leap from elementary to high school years. But, there wasn’t a change in the time period. The animator had to draw a bigger boy because the steps are too high.

The two short films will be screened once more on Thursday (April 15, 10:30 pm) at Studio 23. Included also in Part 1 are the excellent films of Brillante Mendoza and Ditsi Carolino.
Recommended films about education:
Ang Daan Patungong Kalimugtong (Mes de Guzman) – Two siblings walk for miles in order to go to school daily

Pisay (Aurelius Solito) – Eight scholars get enmesh in a web of changes during the waning years of the Marcos regime

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